Facebook Amidst Privacy Crisis: Delete or Not?

Facebook may be facing its biggest challenge yet as the Cambridge Analytica data scandal continues to cast a spell of doubt over the site’s security despite public reassurance from CEO Mark Zuckerberg. As in the recent fake news epidemic, Facebook claims to take all steps necessary to protect the public but the big fish aren’t biting. Already, there seems to be an exodus of big companies (who like Tesla deleted their Facebook page) after it was revealed that the personal data of around 50 million Facebook users were collected without their knowledge or consent. Although the general public is more forgiving, it’s perplexing how this could be an “innocent mistake” from a tech giant in a world where the option for two-factor authentication has become prevalent. Surprisingly even WhatsApp co-founder Brian Acton, whose company was bought for a whopping $19B by Facebook tweeted about supporting the #deletefacebook movement!

As expected, the leading social media platform’s popularity plummeted when it was revealed that Facebook was used to steal private information during the Trump campaign. One recent study showed that 48% of users no longer had a favorable view in contrast to only 30% who did. That being said, it was also a big surprise why most U.S. users have not yet changed log-in credentials – knowing fully well that there is no sanctity of data. According to Reuter’s 86% have not changed their log-in credentials in social media including Facebook and an appalling 78% have not switched to private mode on their browser. Going incognito can be done on the fly but it takes a little more effort to physically cover your device or laptop camera. Something that can’t be shrugged off because half of the adult users admit to logging on daily.

This breach of trust is something that could have been expected if we were more discerning when downloading the app. In a statement to the Guardian, it said, “Contact uploading is optional. People are expressly asked if they want to give permission to upload their contacts from their phone—it’s explained right there in the apps when you get started.” Surreptitious or not, the amount of call or SMS data is astounding and when you realize that it is free to use, then it looks like our collective data becomes part of the product for data miners – but is it a fair trade-off?

“It’s also our responsibility to tell you how we collect and use your data in language that’s detailed, but also easy to understand. In the coming weeks, we’ll be proposing updates to Facebook’s terms of service that include our commitments to people.”          Erin Egan, Facebook

If you think Facebook is indispensable because you are too attached to your social friends and had gotten used to the noise and trivia, you don’t have to delete your account. In a move to regain trust, Facebook itself has taken additional steps so users have better control of their security settings:

  1. Data settings and controls have been streamlined and easier to find – and accessible from one location.
  2. What can be shared with apps are now more explicit.
  3. Outdated settings have been removed or revised.
  4. New Privacy Shortcuts menu was introduced; one that is simpler, more visual, and gives you better control of ads, personal information, and who sees your profile, posts and information.

5. Two-factor authentication,

6. Tools for downloading and deleting Facebook data including contacts, photos, posts, pages, apps, comments and the like. You can also download and/or delete data about friends, followers, and who you are following.

 

“We’ll also update our data policy to better spell out what data we collect and how we use it. These updates are about transparency – not about gaining new rights to collect, use, or share data.”

Photo from https://newsroom.fb.com/news/2018/03/privacy-shortcuts/

Why Medical Data Systems are Crumbling

If you’ve ever spent time working with medical data systems, you know that they’re not great. They’re slow, they’re complex, and they feel like they came out of another decade. In fact, many did come out of another decade, and they’ve been making miserable the lives of techs and nurses ever since. In short, they suck. There are a few reasons for this, though, which can help you understand why the systems are in such a poor state.

 

Lowest Bidder Problems

Let us begin with a simple truth – these systems frequently aren’t top of the line. In most cases, the lowest bidder builds medical information technology. It’s one of the few places in which a hospital or practice can feel comfortable saving money, so it never pursues the top of the line. Instead, you’ll always be stuck with the discount version of a much better program. If you’re lucky, you’ll get something with support. If not, you’ll get a custom program that was built cheaply and must be worked around to function.

 

Old Data, Big Problems

Medical data persists for a very long time. The good news is that many hospitals were quick to start digitizing data. The bad news is that all of that data has to stick around. Unfortunately, that means that expert IT professionals must waste their time maintaining these ancient databases. According to Harmony, legacy data systems are difficult to migrate, so you’ll either be stuck with the original system or with an unwieldy half-solution. Everyone knows that this is not a very good fix, but everyone also knows that it would cost too much money and require too much time for anyone to actually fix the problem.

 

Not Patient-Facing

Perhaps the major reason that medical data systems remain so awful is that they aren’t patient-facing. While everything else in a medical practice or hospital needs to convince patients that they are in good hands, the IT system is only used by the employees. If the assumption remains that the patient’s experience is paramount, something will eventually have to give. Given budgetary restraints and the fact that most medical personnel are adept at working around the problems of the systems, there seems no chance that most medical systems will be updated.

 

In short, medical data systems suck because they’re too expensive and too difficult to change. Overhauling the system would take money away from patient care, even if only briefly. It might be short-term thinking to keep the data systems as they are, but the truth is that they will continue to suck as long as they continue to function.